• One Of The Smartest Known Ways To Learn And Master Chord Extensions

    in Chords & Progressions,Piano,Theory

    Post image for One Of The Smartest Known Ways To Learn And Master Chord Extensions

    What I’m about to share with you would help you learn and master chord extensions like ninths, elevenths and thirteenths.

    Terms like the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth are commonly used among musicians to describe the width of a chord.  I’ll therefore assume that you must have come across them, especially if you’re an intermediate player.

    We’re making them our focus in today’s lesson because a vast majority of musicians are yet to learn and/or master these chord extensions in all twelve keys. If you belong to this league of musicians, then you’re lucky to have arrived at this page.

    Let’s get started!

    A Preamble On Tertian Chords

    A chord is a collection of three or more related notes [agreeable or not] that are played or heard together.

    In a previous lesson, we learned that chords can be classified according to width and we classified all chords according to triads, seventh and extended chords. A triad is a product of the relationship between three scale tones that are usually apart from each other by a third interval.

    A regular example is the C major triad:

    …which consists of the first, third and fifth tones of the C major scale:

    The distance (aka – “interval”) between successive tones of the C major triad is in third intervals. C to E:

    …is a third interval, and so is E to G:

    Attention: The practice of maintaining third intervals between successive chord tones is known to music scholars as tertian harmony. Consequently, chords that are formed based on tertian harmony are known as tertian chords.

    The width of a triad can be enlarged by the addition of another note that is a third interval above the triad. A third above C-E-G:

    …is B:

    So, adding B:

    …to the C major triad:

    …produces a major seventh chord:

    …that encompasses seven degrees of the C major scale (from C to B):

    …which is also known as the C major seventh chord.

    In a nutshell, a seventh chord can be formed by extending the width of a triad by a third. The C major triad:

    …encompasses five degrees of the C major scale, from C to G:

    …while the C major seventh chord:

    …encompasses seven degrees of the C major scale, from C to B:

    Beyond seventh chords are extended chords, which are larger than the compass of an octave and the average human hand. Let’s go a step further into this lesson by learning what chord extensions are.

    “What Are Chord Extensions?”

    Intervals that exceed the compass of an octave are generally classified as compound intervals. Due to the fact that the octave is synonymous with the number eight, compound intervals are usually bigger than the number eight.

    The following intervals:

    • Ninth
    • Tenth
    • Eleventh
    • Twelfth
    • Thirteenth

    …and more, are compound intervals and when used in chord formation, they produce extended chords.

    Attention: Not all compound intervals are used in chord formation. The compound intervals that are commonly used in chord formation are limited to the ninth, the eleventh and the thirteenth.

    Pursuant to tertian harmony, the note that is a third above the C major seventh chord:

    …is D:

    …which is a ninth above the root of the chord (C):

    Adding D:

    …to the C major seventh chord:

    …produces an extended chord – the C major ninth chord:

    In the same vein, a third above the C major ninth chord:

    …is F:

    …and F is an eleventh above the root of the chord (C):

    Hence, adding an F:

    …to the C major ninth chord:

    …produces the C major eleventh chord:

    Also, a third above the C major eleventh chord:

    …is A:

    …and A is a thirteenth above the root of the chord (C):

    Hence, adding an A:

    …to the C major eleventh chord:

    …produces the C major thirteenth chord:

    Submission: The farthest we can go in forming extended chords is to the thirteenth. The note that is a third above the thirteenth chord tone is a duplicate of the root of the chord.

    For example, a third above the C major thirteenth chord:

    …is C:

    …which is a duplicate of the root of the chord (C):

    In a nutshell, we have three compound intervals altogether…

    • The ninth
    • The eleventh
    • The thirteenth

    …and they are commonly known as chord extensions.

    The goal of this lesson is to show you how to learn and master chord extensions (ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths) using the pick-skip technique. But before we get into that, let’s take a look at the pick-skip technique.

    A Quick Review On The Pick-Skip Technique

    The pick-skip technique was invented by the HearandPlay team and was introduced in our 16 week chord revival program. Believe it or not, this is one of the easiest chord formation technique anyone can form tertian chords with.

    “Here’s How It Works…”

    Using the C major scale:

    …tertian chords (be it a triad, a seventh or an extended chord) can be formed by picking and skipping. Picking C:

    …skipping D and picking E:

    …skipping F and picking G:

    …altogether, produces the C major triad:

    Skipping A and picking B:

    …produces the C major seventh chord:

    “Picking And Skipping Chord Tones Will Eventually Form Extended Chords…”

    From the C major seventh chord:

    …skipping C and picking D:

    …produces the C major ninth chord:

    From the C major ninth chord, skipping E and picking F:

    …produces the C major eleventh chord:

    From the C major eleventh chord, skipping G and picking A:

    …produces the C major thirteenth chord:

    That’s how ALL tertian chords can be formed using the pick-skip technique.

    How To Master Chord Extensions In All Twelve Keys Using The Pick-Skip Technique

    Using the pick-skip technique, you can master chord extensions in all twelve keys and I’ll be opening your eyes to it.

    “Pay Close Attention To This…”

    The pick-skip technique features two main activities – picking and skipping. Within the compass of an octave, the picking part produces chord tones while the skipping part produces chord extensions.

    In the formation of the C major seventh chord:

    C:

    …is picked, D is skipped and E:

    …is picked, F is skipped and G:

    …is picked, A is skipped and B:

    …is picked.

    All the notes picked – C, E, G, and B:

    …are chord tones, while all the notes skipped – D, F, and A:

    …are chord extensions.

    The first note that was skipped (D):

    …is the ninth, the second one (F):

    …is the eleventh, while the third one (A):

    …is the thirteenth.

    Following the same procedure, chord extensions can be determined in any key.

    “Determination Of Chord Extensions In The Key Of E…”

    Using the pick-skip technique we can determine the chord extensions in the key of E:

    We’ll start by picking E:

    …skipping F# and picking G#:

    …skipping A and picking B:

    …skipping C# and picking D#:

    All the notes skipped – F#, A, and C#:

    …are the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth.

    “Here’s How Chord Extensions Can Be Applied…”

    Due to the fact that the ninth tone in the key of E:

    …is F#:

    …adding the ninth (F#):

    …to any seventh chord quality produces a ninth chord.

    “Check Out These Examples…”

    Example #1 – The E minor ninth chord

    Adding F#:

    …to the E minor seventh chord:

    …produces the E minor ninth chord:

    Example #2 – The E major ninth chord

    Adding F#:

    …to the E major seventh chord:

    …produces the E major ninth chord:

    Example #3 – The E dominant ninth chord

    Adding F#:

    …to the E dominant seventh chord:

    …produces the E dominant ninth chord:

    Example #4 – The E diminished-major ninth chord

    Adding F#:

    …to the E diminished-major seventh chord:

    …produces the E diminished-major ninth chord:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    After chord extensions have been determined using the pick-skip technique, it is important to do an octave transposition of the chord extensions derived.

    In the key of C:

    …the pick technique would produce the following chord tones – C, E, G and B:

    …while the skip technique would produce the following chord extensions – D, F and A:

    The chord extensions (D, F and A):

    …should be transposed an octave higher to D, F and A:

    When that is done, C-D:

    …would encompass a ninth, C-F:

    …would encompass an eleventh, and C-A:

    …would encompass a thirteenth.

    Final Words

    I’m really sure that you can determine the chord extensions – ninth, eleventh and thirteenth chord tones – in all twelve keys using the pick-skip technique.

    We’ll continue our discussion in another post where we’ll be learning another technique that anyone can master chromatic chord extensions with.

    See you then!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

    songtutor600x314-4jpg



    { 0 comments… add one now }

    Leave a Comment

    Previous post:

    Next post: